Tilt: Making a game of physiotherapy

Interactive games powered by smartphones are combining to put the “fun” in physiotherapy. But can this Kiwi start-up creation really revolutionise an industry?

Let’s peel away the layers and just admit it: undergoing physiotherapy is not fun. At all.

Wouldn’t it be better if there was, well, an alternative?

That’s exactly what a group of Victoria University of Wellington alums have done, developing an interactive gaming system to help take the chore out of physiotherapy exercises – or so they hope.

The system, known as Tilt, is essentially a lightweight balance training board that lets the user play games by standing on and tilting the board. In other words, it’s somewhat akin to a cross between a hover board and Dance Dance Revolution.

The idea is that the system allows the user to strengthen their muscles and improve balance – two key ingredients for any good physiotherapy programme.

Behind Tilt are Swibo’s Benjamin Dunn, Lukas Stoecklein, Connor Broad and Zac Bird, who came up with the idea at Victoria’s annual Entrepreneur Bootcamp.

Dunn said the bootcamp played a key role in the creation of Tilt.

“The Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp brought our team together, and the combination of our different backgrounds encourages and facilitates collaboration,” he said.

“That collaboration is what fuels the creativity you need for entrepreneurship.”

Dunn said the element of playing games could create an incentive for motivating the user to go through with a physiotherapy programme, which was enabled by modern mobile tech.

“We wanted to make it easier for people to carry out their physiotherapy exercises and recover properly, and realised playing games can be an incentive,” he said.

“The system uses any smartphone to connect the board to a computer running the games. The phone can then record the board’s movements and measurements, which are analysed by computer software. This helps physiotherapists and sports trainers track the user’s improvements and provide tailored training as time goes on.”

The current Tilt system has three games – NeoZen, Hexile and Unbearable – which involve users racing their friends in space rockets, solving puzzles in a classic island adventure, or fighting against bears. More games are said to be in the works.

Dunn claims Tilt is already being used by pro sports trainers – but he has greater ambitions of branching out into a larger market, including beyond New Zealand.

“A lot of people can benefit from these kinds of exercises, including the elderly, children or those with disabilities,” he said.

“It’s very helpful for preventing injuries before they occur. It’s also for people who just want to be a little bit more active and have fun gaming. We see the potential to make a real difference with Tilt and are excited for people to start using it and seeing its benefits.”

A Kickstarter campaign has raised about $6000 so far from 50 backers. The project has a goal of $15,000. The money raised will be used to build more Tilt boards and further develop games for the system.

Teams of entrepreneurs at this year’s Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp teams are currently gearing up for their final pitch event, which will take place on Wednesday, February 24.